E Plurubus Unum, Rex Montis

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

To Take a Life

I now want to pose a theoretical discussion starter that I
heard on the radio the other day. You are
standing by two sets of train tracks with a lever in front of you that changed
the path of the train from one set of tracks to the other. On the far set of
tracks are 10 people. For this scenario they are all "good people"
with families and such. On the near set of tracks is one person, equally
"good" with a family. Incidentally, there is a train coming down the
far set of tracks at a high rate of speed. There are no other variables, there
are no other alternatives. You have seconds to decide, do you pull the lever
and shift the tracks so the one person is killed? Or do you do nothing and let
the 10 people be killed. No one knows they are in danger, no one will ever know
it was you making the decision, and there is no way to warn anyone or otherwise
make an alternative choice. You stand there for the next 3 seconds and watch 10
people die, or you pull the lever and watch one die. What do you do?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

World Perspective

It never ceases to amaze me, that the very people who tell me to keep an open mind and broaden my perspective, and that there are no absolute truths, are the very same people that are locked into a way of thinking with a very limited perspective gleaned from the media and are "absolutely certain there is no absolute truth."

This post comes to me after a wide variety of conversations had in pubs, on the phone, other countries, with many foreign nationals, other states of our union, in person, at dinner, and the ever-popular, online debate. I've found there is a whole WORLD of information out there, with a wide range of opinions. But Americans never cease to amaze me (good and bad).

I understand that most people would rather not discuss politics, religion etc. That is fine. But when you cross that invisible non-spoken barrier...then I expect a well-thought, well informed opinion, not just a knee-jerk-emotional reaction with statements on how you "feel" on a subject. Don't get me wrong, feelings are important and are a main source of drive for most of what we do. However...

If I propose my belief in evolution/creation with articulable observable facts, then I expect the same counter argument in kind, instead of ridicule and mockery without base.

If I propose the "archaic" right to defend one's self while citing the second amendment, then I expect an opinion yes, but a well researched opinion based on more than CNN's latest report on gun violence. Perhaps observable phenomenon such as the observable violent crime increase in Australia after implementing gun-control could be met with an educated opinion/response instead of laughter followed by mockery.

If I discuss a government conspiracy theory then I guess all bets are off, but I still expect an educated response instead of a laugh salted with mockery.

When I say educated I don't mean higher education, I mean research, reading an actual book or listening to subject matter eye-witness experts. To me, mockery of one's opinion with no opposing intelligent arguments is not a good convincer to the contrary. Indeed, it only continues to show ignorance while purporting the possession of higher, more enlightened knowledge...attempting to incite anger from your opponent in order to make up for your lack of knowledge on the subject makes you a jerk, not an academic.

Of all the names I could have picked, I chose "jerk" for a reason. Look it up.

If you have an opinion stated publicly and we discuss ACTIONS OF THE US MILITARY IN IRAQ AND US POLICY AS IT PERTAINS TO COMBAT VETERANS...I expect a truly informed opinion. If you disagree with my opinion and have never served your country in any fashion, have never done anything in your life for anyone else besides yourself, then I expect a systematic point by point reasoning based in reality, not fantasy, as to your main points in the discussion. Furthermore if you are a 22 year old single "adult" male, who left mommy right after high school (you know who you are) and joined the great world of academia and have never had a job and never left the United States and your sources of information are MSNBC, CNN, Wikipedia, your friends at school and Marxist/Leninist professors...then I would advise you to tread lightly when it comes to your opinion or you may just spout off in front of the wrong person and find yourself in an awkward position that involves internal bleeding.

I of course support everyone's right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. But maybe, just because you can do or say something doesn't always mean you should. The random Neanderthal-biker-looking dude who is very proud of his country, that just happened to overhear your ill-advised opinion might not express HIS opinion on a website, just saying...

If you have an opinion and want to grow in your knowledge then talking to people and gaining perspective is important. I guess I simply grow frustrated with people who want to think they know things, but make it up as they go along. I grow increasingly frustrated when someone has an "opinion" that is based on nothing more than something they heard, it sounded good, so they are regurgitating to me as an original thought...

After that rant, the main point of all of this is that I have unrealistic expectations. I keep expecting to have rational arguments with irrational people. How can I discuss world views with a "youngster" that has never left their home state? What was I thinking?